Letter: A critical moment for train campaign


To the editor:

A proposed bill with huge importance for the future of Berkshire County calls for a study of the economic and environmental impact of bringing passenger train service back to Pittsfield, from both Boston and New York. The deadline to file this legislation is Friday, Jan. 18. We hope the Berkshire delegation will support it.

The proposed study would update a 2010 report by Professor Stephen Sheppard of Williams College that showed some $1 billion in additional economic activity over 10 years based on passenger service to New York on the Housatonic line. Today, there are three passenger rail initiatives humming along: the East-West Rail Study, the Berkshire Flyer pilot that should begin in 2020, and the Housatonic (Berkshire) Line, which is currently being upgraded to passenger standard from Pittsfield to the Connecticut border.

We therefore need an assessment of the full impact of new and upgraded service both north-south and east-east, including the Housatonic Line (which will provide passenger service within the county, too, from Pittsfield south to Sheffield). Such a study is essential to making the case for infrastructure investment that will benefit everyone in Berkshire County.

The study would be led by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. It would produce a report on the economic and environmental benefits of establishing year-round, multiple-trip-per-day passenger rail service between Boston and Pittsfield and New York and Pittsfield.

The report would detail economic benefits from the creation of direct and indirect jobs, increased investment and entrepreneurship, access to urban education and employment opportunities, attracting new residents who would continue to work in metropolitan areas, and tax revenues to both the commonwealth and Berkshire municipalities. The report would also assess climate-change resilience, reduction in overall carbon emissions, transit-oriented development, and green-energy job creation.

We need a new rural-urban network that will be a model for 21st-century living. Visit www.TrainCampaign.org or write to thetraincampaign@gmail.com to get email links for all Berkshire County legislators. We're counting on them, and they need to hear from every one of us. Your voice counts whether you are a voter, a resident, or a second-home owner or renter.

Karen Christensen,

Great Barrington

The writer is president of The Train Campaign, Berkshire County's rail advocacy organization.


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